Amid talk of mega Tejas deal, India and Egypt ink an MoU in Cairo
Rajnath Singh and his Egyptian counterpart General Mohamed Zaki agreed to identify proposals for expanding cooperation between the countries' defence industries in a time-bound manner.
India and Egypt have inked a memorandum of understanding to bolster ties across all sectors of mutual interest during Indian defence minister Rajnath Singh's three-day visit to Cairo.
In an official statement, the Indian defence ministry stated that Rajnath Singh and his Egyptian counterpart General Mohamed Zaki agreed to identify proposals for expanding cooperation between the countries' defence industries in a time-bound manner. Prior to flying to Cairo, it was believed that Rajnath Singh would sign a deal for state-owned plane maker HAL-built light combat aircraft Tejas. It assumes significance as the Arab country has in the past shown interest in the procurement of HAL's LCA Tejas aircraft.
Last month, the Narendra Modi government had in Parliament informed that Egypt is among six countries which evinced interest in the Tejas jets.
It should be noted that after the 1960s, this is for the first time that the two countries are inching closer and forging bilateral defence ties.
The two countries have a common thing -- colonial background. The then leadership, Pt Jawaharlal Nehru of India and Egypt's Gamal Abdel Nasser's personal bonhomie, helped in scaling new heights at a time when the world was divided into two ideologies. India and Egypt, along with other countries, chose non-aligned movements. However, in later stages, the two countries drifted away as Cairo inched closer to the United States-led bloc while India tilted towards the Soviet Union.
In July, the two air forces held their first-ever joint tactical air exercise, 'Desert Warrior'. In November, Indian Air Force chief ACM VR Chaudhari visited Cairo and attended a slew of events organised by the Egyptian Air Force.
Egyptian Air Force chief Air Marshal Mohamed Abbas Helmy Md Hashem also visited India in July to discuss defence collaborations. During their meeting, the two ministers discussed ways to bolster defence ties and reached a consensus to enhance the conduct of joint exercises and exchange of personnel for training, especially in the field of counter-insurgency.
"Signing of MoU by the two Defence Ministers on cooperation in the field of defence was a milestone event during the visit, which will pave the way for enhancing defence cooperation across all sectors of mutual interest," the ministry said.
Rajnath Singh also invited his Egyptian counterpart to the India-Africa Defence Dialogue and Indian Ocean Region Defence Ministers' Conclave, scheduled to be held as part of 12th DefExpo in Gandhinagar, Gujarat, between October 18-22.